Many people who remain in the GOP profess to be Constitutionalists. Hardly a day passes without some email urging me to support Donald Trump’s candidacy, because he will appoint Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in the “strict constructionist” mold of Justice Antonin Scalia. Even if this were an adequate estimation of what is required to assure respect for the Constitution’s terms, it leaves open the question of what Donald Trump and his adherents mean by the word “strict”.
Now comes the report that one of Trump’s spokespersons recently sent an email to an anti-Trump delegate to the upcoming GOP national convention “saying she should be ‘hung for treason’ for her opposition the prospective Republican nominee.” Later Carl Paladino “defended his violent email, saying that the threat of hanging…was nothing more than a colloquialism.” Paladino’s threat, and his excuse for it, remind me of Karl Rove’s supposedly joking call some years ago for someone to murder Todd Akin, who was at the time the GOP’s candidate for the U.S. Senate from Missouri.
However, Paladino’s formulation is worse than Karl Rove’s because Paladino’s “colloquialism” misuses a deadly serious Constitutional term, “treason.” Respect for the U.S. Constitution demands that deeply consequential Constitutional terms never be used carelessly in our politics. Treason, as Paladino obviously knows, can be a capital offense. The Framers of the Constitution knew from experience how the term was abused during the various epochs of religious persecution and warfare in Great Britain (and even some of the British Colonies in America). So they took pains to define the term quite carefully: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”
Under the U.S. Constitution, therefore, the only proper use of the word “treason” involves war against the United States, or collusion with those engaged in such warfare. It is a crime against the Union, against the body politic. No mention is made of political parties. Moreover, in the context of its provisions for the Presidential election, no mention is made of candidates for the Presidency. The Constitution speaks only of persons for whom those chosen to be Electors have cast their votes. Thus nothing the Constitution associates with the activity of the national body politic, or the institutions of government involved in that activity, deals with partisan political activities. The Constitution in no way demands loyalty to parties, or their candidates. Therefore, treason never enters the picture with respect to the decisions voters take to support or reject them.
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Pretend if you like that “everybody knows that.” But I suspect that not a few people reading this column have never given it a moment’s serious thought. In fact, wrongheaded notions about the official status of political parties is so prevalent that the Parties presently under elitist faction control are very close to making membership in their Constitutionally unwarranted activities a de facto prerequisite for effectual participation in elections, especially at the national level. This is blatantly anti-Constitutional. If they succeed at it, there will be fatal consequences for the life and liberty of every American. Carl Paladino’s “colloquialism” is properly considered in light of those consequences.
Given the experience of much of humankind in the 20th century, there is no excuse for ignoring the fact that those consequences can be disastrous. In communist, fascist, Nazi and other socialist totalitarian regimes, rulers defined infractions of Party discipline as crimes against the State. They effectively erased the distinction between loyalty to a Constitutional government, ratified by the voting authority of the citizens, and obedience to the dictates of Party leaders or bosses. So people who tried to participate in politics outside the lines of factional discipline could be charged with treason and hung.
To speak of this possibility was not a “colloquialism.” It was not a joke. It was the deadly threat with which true freedom of debate, true liberty in the competition for elective office, was eliminated. It was the form of words wherewith gulags, concentration camps and “re-education” facilities were filled with fodder for the killing fields. Thus the 20th century’s massive purges claimed the lives of many millions.
The careless abuse of words with violent implications should be treated with deadly seriousness by Americans who are serious, even unto death, in their determination to thwart the rising dictatorship of the few in the United States. That dictatorship is the goal of the elitist faction, which currently dominates both the Democrat Party and the GOP. Donald Trump does not reject this fatal elitist agenda. So his pre-eminence in the GOP has practically banished the expectation of civility and reasonable discourse that was still being maintained, for example, in the public aspects of the Republican Party’s activities when I competed for the GOP’s Presidential nomination in 2000.
However, I also vividly remember my personal experience in 1996, involving abuse of government power in electoral politics. Some present readers may recall how I was unlawfully detained by police in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1996, to prevent my participation in a televised Presidential debate, for which I was duly qualified and in which I was formally invited to participate. It seemed to me at the time to be a remediable aberration, an ugly departure from the civil culture of self-government I had spent my whole adult life working to maintain, against the model of repressive totalitarian despotism elsewhere in the world.
But in recent years the loyal toadies of the elitist faction’s anti-Constitutional ambitions have more openly bared their fangs, a fact illustrated by statements like those of Karl Rove and Carl Paladino. These housecarls of the elitist faction’s would-be tyranny want us to become accustomed to the gangsteresque language of intimidation. That language is suitable for people making the transition the elitist faction envisages– from brave liberty to craven servitude; from a constitutional republic fit for a free people, to a regime of fear, forcefully punctuated with thuggish violence.
I happen personally to know the individual Trump’s Carl Paladino seeks to intimidate. Stephanie Stone Williams, and her family, have fought consistently to maintain their stance of political integrity, faithful to God and country. They have the virtuous character we could once take for granted as the salt and leaven of America’s citizenry. I have been allied with them in many battles for God-endowed right and Constitutional principle. So I am not surprised to see Stephanie stand fearlessly in the face of the openly rising tide of elitist faction despotism Trump actually represents.
But these days I must lament the wilting integrity of many others I once assumed to be like her. They have fallen prey to Trump’s maliciously calculated exploitation of their justifiable anger against the slumming of America, which Trump himself helped Obama, Clinton and the rest to bring about. In light of this, I tremble for my country, even as Jefferson did. For I know that God is just, and apprehend that His justice has now awakened.
In judgment against our violation of the primordial unalienable right of our posterity, has He withdrawn the hand of His protection from our nation? Has He hardened our hearts against the wholesome mind of the One He sent to save us? Are Americans now content to betray the duty of their unalienable right of liberty, and so applaud violently coercive threats deployed to force the sacrifice of conscience? Isn’t such coercion the very thing the GOP’s platform language even now pretends to oppose? Yet a minion of the Party’s prospective nominee deploys it nonetheless. This open betrayal of their Platform’s promising words warns us to beware. Does the mercurial trump with which the GOP purports to call us to “greatness” lure us instead toward the suppression of conscientious reason? Like Obama’s sly mantra of “change”, does it call for us to abandon our nation’s wholesome dedication to God’s endowment of human right and justice, along with all that we once cherished in the name of rightful liberty?
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.